NOVEMBER - CHILLY BUT SUNNY
Hello all you lovely November ladies - you are really lucky girl to have 2 sunny gemstones to brighten and warm your chilly birth month.
Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colours. In antiquity all yellow gems were called Topaz, and were richly prized.
Often confused with Citrine ( which is a specific coloured Quartz, Smoky quartz which is brown) - In fact quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species.
In india especially you will often hear people refer to smoky quartz, as “smoky topaz”. Do not be fooled - it’s a clever ploy to trick you into paying more for a quartz gemstone, largely because smoky topaz just doesn't exist.
Other fancy names for “topaz” are:
- Smoky topaz – which is actually smoky quartz
- Citrine topaz – which is citrine
- Madeira topaz – a citrine quartz
- Bohemian topaz – which is also citrine
- Occidental topaz – is also citrine
- Oriental topaz – which is yellow corundu
Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually available in many colours, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name. Yellow gems have been called variations of the name topaz for thousands of years – long before mineralogists determined that topaz occurs in a range of colours, and that many yellowish stones actually belong to other mineral species.
The name topaz derives from “Topazios", the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow stones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.
Ancient texts from the Greek scholar Pliny to the King James Bible referenced topaz, but because of this longstanding confusion, they likely referred to other yellow stones instead.
FACTPure topaz is colourless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any colour of the rainbow.
The most prized colour of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body colour with pinkish undertones. Processes were developed in the 1960s to turn common colourless topaz blue with irradiation treatment - the famous Sky, Swiss and London Blue Topaz - are all irradiated gemstones.
The largest producer of quality topaz is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S., mainly California, Utah and New Hampshire.Russia’s Ural Mountains became a leading source of topaz in the 19th century. The prized pinkish orange gemstone mined there was named Imperial topaz to honour the Russian Czar, and only royals were allowed to own it.Since the discovery of large topaz deposits in Brazil in the mid-19th century, topaz has become much more affordable and widely available.
During the Renaissance in Europe, people believed that topaz could break spells and quell anger. Hindus deemed topaz sacred, believing that a pendant could bring wisdom and longevity to one’s life. African shamans also treated the stone as sacred, using it in their healing rituals.
The most common reference for the word Citrine is a certain colour variety of quartz which is a medium deep shade of golden yell. The original reference point for the colour itself was the "citron" fruit, a.k.a. the humble lemon.
Citrine as a gemstone has been summarised at various times as yellow, greenish- yellow, brownish - yellow or orange.
The pale yellow colour of citrine closely resembles topaz, which explains why November’s two birthstones have been so easily confused throughout history.
Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. Whilst this does occur naturally. there was a key discovery mande in 18th century when mineralogists realised that amethyst and smoky quartz could be heat treated to produce the lemony and golden honey hues of citrine. This single fact contributed tot an abundance of affordable enhanced gems on the market. even today, it remains one of the most affordable and frequently purchased yellow gemstones.
Brazil is the largest supplier of citrine. Other sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colourado, North Carolina and California). Different geographies yield different shades of citrine.
With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is relatively durable against scratches and everyday wear-and-tear—making it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry.
Citrine, is known as the "healing quartz". This golden gemstone is said to support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and warmth within the wearer. Throughout history, people believed that citrine carried the same powers as topaz, including the ability to calm tempers, soothe anger and manifest desires, especially prosperity. To leverage these powers, Egyptians used citrine gems as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them, and Roman priests fashioned them into rings. Till today the Chinese believe that the citrine brings "money luck" to the wearer.
SO HOW DO YOU TELL THEM APART?
So - you have a yellow gemstone. Its old, or maybe it s new; its an heirloom, or something you bought yourself. How do you know if it's a Citrine, a Topaz, or a pretty, pretty piece of glass?
Before the 20th century, all gems in the brown, orange, and yellow colour range were called topaz. Modern gemology was only recognized as a science in the 1930s. Today we know that topaz and brown quartz are actually two different gemstones. Citrine is less likely to be confused with Topaz today, but it does happen.
The two gemstones are however a different gem species. They're composed of different chemicals and have different physical and optical properties. They are also priced very differently. With 10 percent of the Earth's surface being some kind of quartz, you can imagine that it is a tiny little bit more abundant than Topaz. Despite what you might have been told that they are basically the same, the fact is, they're not.
Some jewellers can perform accurate appraisals and some cannot. If you really must know what it is, or if you are putting down a considerable chunk of change, the only way to know for sure is to contact a geology lab to test and identify your pretty yellow stone.
But till then, whatever you have, you might as well wear it and enjoy it.